Jays In 30…Thoughts
30 thoughts from the week that was for the Toronto Blue Jays
3/26/2016 – 4/1/2016
1) A Decision Has Been Made! Aaron Sanchez won a spot in the rotation, I am hesitant to say he is the #5 starter as he could be the 2nd best starter we have, after a great internal battle with Gavin Floyd. It is awesome to see a young home grown talent have success and earn the job like he did. Let’s hope things spill over into the regular season!
2) The Best Plan? The initial plan, laid out for Sanchez, is too allow him to start and potentially move him to the bullpen as the season moves along dues to a (yet to be made public) innings limit. The only issue I see here is if Mr. Sanchez has a lot of success and we start hearing grumblings, a la Matt Harvey last season, about potentially missing important starts down the stretch. Let’s just worry about that when the time comes.
3) Who Will Win the AL East? The Toronto Blue Jays, of course! The offense should be even better than last year – with a full season of Troy Tulowitzki – while the depth of the pitching staff has improved all around…it wouldn’t hurt to potentially add a strong starter prior to the deadline, if we are in the playoff hunt, though.
4) Who Will Be The Top Challenger For the AL East? I feel it will be the Boston Red Sox – they have the talent and some strong up and comers that should build on their 2015 season. Sadly, never count out those Yankees – once Aroldis Chapman comes back from suspension they will have a formidable bullpen to deal with.
5) 196-Start, 72-Win Pitcher Heads to the Bullpen Gavin Floyd, who has had varying degrees of success as a starter, heads to the Jays bullpen – a place where he has very limited experience. He still has a great arm and due to past injuries I feel this could be the best thing for him. It never hurts to have someone who can make a start here and there with the big club.
6) Opening Day Starter to Buffalo Drew Hutchison, the Blue Jays 2015 Opening Day starter, has been sent to Triple A Buffalo. He really couldn’t pull it together last season – which concluded with him being left off the playoff roster. Hopefully a stint in Buffalo will be the best thing for him and he can help the big club at some point this season. Hutchison has great stuff and is still very young – still lots of room for upside.
7) Insult to Injury The Hutchison demotion came a day after he was involved in a bizarre, potentially dangerous, play on the field. While ducking, and facing 2nd base, to allow a clear throwing lane for catcher A.J. Jimenez , Hutchison was hit in the back of the head by the throw. Luckily he was not injured on the play although he did leave the game.
8) Catcher Sent Packing The other half of that bizarre attempted throw to 2nd base, A.J. Jimenez, is also no longer part of the Blue Jays plans as he was designated for assignment to create a roster spot for a former Seattle Mariner. Jimenez, a 9th round pick in the 2008 draft, hasn’t played up to his potential and will have to re-earn his 40-man roster spot the hard way.
9) Former Top Prospect Claimed Jesus Montero was claimed off waivers from the Seattle Mariners. He was once a highly ranked prospect signed by the Yankees but he has never had sustained success in the big leagues. The fact that he is essentially a DH or 1B doesn’t help his stock either. Don’t expect to see Montero in a Blue Jays uniform anytime soon.
10) Former All-Star Opts Out Fausto, no wait, Roberto Hernandez used his opt-out clause to leave the Blue Jays organization after he didn’t make the MLB roster. He did have a decent spring and I feel it won’t take long for him to land on a team starving for pitching.
11) Home Runs Abound Barry Bonds was someone I enjoyed watching and cheering for, and I am still a supporter to this day. I can’t wait to hear his entire interview with Hazel Mae. He is such an interesting figure and, in my eyes, should have been a first ballot hall of famer. But we won’t get into that argument.
12) Former All-Star Cut Steve Delabar is no longer a Toronto Blue Jay. He never really had much of a chance to crack the MLB roster this season with strong competition in camp. When you think about it he really only had one strong half season – which led to his all-star appearance – but that was more than we would have got out of Eric Thames (who we traded to get Delabar).
13) The Stopper Returns Roberto Osuna kept his closing job, over Drew Storen, for the start of the 2016 season. Gibbons and Co. really couldn’t go wrong either way. I really hope Storen doesn’t get slighted by this move – he has been saying all of the right things about just wanting to win. I say this as he was not happy when Jonathan Papelbon was acquired last season in Washington, taking Storen’s role as closer away.
14) Another Rule 5 Gem? Joe Biagini, picked up in the Rule 5 draft from the Giants, has made the Jays roster. He has an electric arm and, what seems to be, a great personality that will help keep the guys loose – especially in the absence of Mark Lowe and Muni Kawasaki. I doubt he will have the same impact as fellow Rule 5 picks George Bell and Willie Upshaw – but it looks like he was worth the look.
15) Opening Day and Home Opener Things are lining up for Marcus Stroman to start the season opener (which we knew) and the home opener. What a difference a year makes! Stroman truly deserves it after all of the work he put in last season to make his way back into the rotation after an unlucky injury.
16) Back Injury After a Breakout Year A big question, in my eyes, is if Marco Estrada can pitch at the same level he did during his breakout season last year. He begins the year with limited spring training action and without his personal catcher in Dioner Navarro (Now with the White Sox). It may be tough for him to repeat the magic he performed last season – especially with the variables mentioned.
17) Former Fan Favourite Gets Cut Munenori Kawasaki was cut from the Chicago Cubs, only to be signed to a minor league deal shortly after. The same day of his release he hit a rare homerun that had the fans chanting his name (as seen here). He has clearly won the Cubs fans over! What a character. I will miss him.
18) Distractions. Distractions. Disttractions. Will the contract negotiations, or lack thereof, for Bautista and Encarnacion be a distraction this year or will they motivate the guys to put up some big numbers? I guess time, and the number of wins the team earns, will tell.
19) Playing for a Contract Bautista, more than Edwin, seems to be all about the money (keep in mind I base this solely on my opinion) thus I feel Bautista is going to have a monster season in an effort to extract every dollar he can out of his future contract…which, deep down, I hope is with Toronto but I would bet otherwise.
20) Can He Stay Healthy? Edwin Encarnacion is often seen as a health concern and with his oblique injury early in spring training these worries came to the forefront once again. In his last 5 seasons the least amount of games he played was 128 – or nearly 80% – not too bad in my books for someone who is seen as injury prone.
21) The Issue in Left Field. Michael Saunders, coming off a lost season due to injury, has a career slash line of .230/.301/.381 – and why would that change much this season? I see the production from left field being an issue for the Jays this season and, much like last year, if we are in contention someone being brought in to hit leadoff and play left (heck maybe the Nationals will tank and Ben Revere will be available?!).
22) Small Disabled List to Start Of the players expected to contribute to the Jays team at the beginning of the year, only Aaron Loup and Marco Estrada will start the season on the disabled list with Estrada making his first start on April 10th. The timetable for Loup is not clear at this point. All in all this is a much better start to the season, on the injury front, than last year!
23) Stick With What You Know Ezequiel Carrera won the 4th outfielder job to start the season. I wouldn’t say he won it but, instead, was the best choice as Darrell Ceciliani has options and was able to go to the minors without going thru waivers. Ceciliani is only 25 and I would bet we will see him with the big club this season and beyond.
24) No Real Surprises. At the end of the day there were no real surprises on the Jays’ roster. Biagini may be the biggest shock but he really made the team due to space being made due to injuries. It is exciting to have a steady roster with a small amount of turnover that, hopefully, creates a wining atmosphere.
25) Who is The “Long-Man” Early on Jesse Chavez, who has experience in the long man role, was pegged (by me at least) as the innings eater out of the bullpen. Now, it looks like Gavin Floyd will take the job in an effort to keep him stretched out to make spot starts or to make an easy transition to the rotation in case of injury. It is great to have some options for the rotation this year!
26) Will the MLB Act? Former Blue Jay, Jose Reyes, had his charge of domestic abuse dropped after his wife would not cooperate with the prosecution. Reyes remains on the restricted list as he awaits a decision from the MLB on whether he will be suspended much like Aroldis Chapman of the Yankees was. Stories like this need to end. These people are role models to thousands of kids and should act like ones on and off the field.
27) The Preseason Comes to an End. The final preseason games will be once again played in Montreal. Over 100,000 people are expected to attend the games at the former home of the Expos. Let’s hope the powers that be continue to notice and Montreal gets a building and a team in the not too distant future. It would be amazing to have another Canadian team in the MLB.
28) Former, highly paid, All-Star benched Remember when there were rumours of the Jays going after Pablo Sandoval last offseason? Well now he, and his $95 million contract, will start the season on the bench in Boston. Sometimes the best deals are the ones that weren’t made…cueing Michael Saunders!
29) New Terms Being Considered? Rumours, rumours, rumours. Word is that Jose Bautista may consider a 4 year contract paying him $30 million per year. I would do it if I were the Jays. Keep the legend in Toronto and allow him to DH more often after this season to keep the wear and tear on his body down. There may be some regression, as he ages, but I really feel it is a good thing for all involved on a 4 year pact. This is all a rumour and I truly don’t think Jose would settle for a 4 year deal like this.
30) Spring Deadline Will Pass. The Blue Jays won’t meet Edwin Encarnacions spring training deadline to get a contract done. It is looking more and more like our #3 and #4 hitter will both be gone after this season. Enjoy them while they are here and hope for a deep postseason run!
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